And so my inaugural Minors Roundup begins…
Three-out-of-four ain't bad!
The four highest Jays affiliates were in action again yesterday, with the same three teams winning as the day before:
Rochester 7, Syracuse 4
Just like their parent team, the Chiefs were swept in their opening series. Unlike their parent team, the broom came from formidable opposition, in the Twins’ AAA affiliate. This game followed the same script as the two previous, with the Red Wings doing most of their damage early against a SkyChiefs starter, and the Chiefs offense coming too little, too late. Jason Arnold gave up a three run homer in the first to Terry Tiffee. The other key blow came in the top of the second on a Gross error in left, resulting in two of the three unearned runs Arnold allowed. Arnold’s line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 HR. More significantly though, his fastball was apparently topping out in the high 80s, despite having made the offseason adjustment, (back) to a three-quarter arm delivery. Maurer and Chulk pitched a scoreless 2 2/3 innings of relief (Chulk had 3 K in his two innings) before handing the ball to Jason Frasor, who was all over the place (4 BB, 2 K, 1 ER) in the 9th.
On the offensive side, Gross came through with his first hit and RBI of the season in the 5th, driving in Sequea, and Howie Clark had a two-run dinger in the 7th. Jeff Guiel, who’ll be playing for gold in Athens in a few months, drove in the other Syracuse run in the 9th. While the Chiefs’ two most highly touted hitters, Quiroz (1-4) and Rios (0-4), remained quiet, Sequea continued where he left off this spring (going 1-2, 2 R, BB).
New Hampshire 3, New Britain 1
From start to finish, this game was all about Dustin McGowan. The righty’s highly anticipated season debut certainly lived up to the hype. McGowan, beginning to emulate the Doc, both in work ethic and pitching efficiency, allowed only one hit (a solo blast off the bat of Twins prospect Jason Kubel in the 4th). He struck out four, didn’t walk a batter, and totalled only eighteen balls in his six innings of work (70 pitches). Most of the outs were of the weak-fly-ball/pop-up variety today. Ryan Houston made his AA debut in fine fashion, pitching two innings (2 K, 1 BB, 2 H, O ER) before Dan Jackson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth, for the save, sparing Peterson and League for today. The Fisher Cat relievers haven’t allowed a run in twelve innings so far.
Jim Abbott (not the former major leaguer) was dueling Mcgowan until the fourth, when Robert Cosby drove in Hill (who had singled) for the Cats’ first run. It was also Cosby’s team-leading fifth RBI. Rich and Cat-Catalyst Hill (2-3, 2 R, BB) had back-to-back singles in the sixth, and were both driven in by Mike Snyder’s double. (Aside: Aaron Hill is only three days older than McGowan, which is sort of surprising). The only other highlight came in the ninth, when with one out and with the Rock Cats down by two, a brain-cramping Luis Maza tried, unsuccessfully, to score on a ball that went by Paul Chiaffredo. One out later, and the Fisher Cats had recorded their third straight victory to open the season (and franchise). “The General,” Robert (Derek) Lee aims for the four-game sweep today, as the Twins and Jays continue in their battle for minor league superiority. (Note: C Jose Umbria was sent to New Hampshire to make room for Gregg Zaun on the Syracuse roster)
Dunedin 8, Clearwater 1
The D-Jays won their third straight out of the gate, bumping their season run total to 34 in the process. Ismael Ramirez pitched six strong innings (3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and was the winner in his first start at High-A Dunedin, giving up his only run in the first inning on an groundout. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t even expected (in these parts) to land a rotation spot on the prospect-laden D-Jay squad! Andy Torres, Tommi Ozuna, and Bubbie Buzachero quietly pitched a shoutout seventh, eighth, and ninth inning, respectively, for Dunedin.
The offense didn’t rely as heavily on Big Vito’s bat (0-3, BB, K) as the DH only drove in one run in this game, on a sac-fly in the first. Jayce Tingler took his third walk in as many games (he hasn’t struck out yet) and was the key cog in Dunedin’s lineup, doubling in a pair of runs in the 5th, and driving in another on a sacrifice in the 8th frame. Miguel Negron went 2-5 (3 K) and Scott Dragicevich had an RBI double to round out the offensive attack.
Charleston (WV) 7, Delmarva 3
Shaun Marcum, in his first start since his early college years, pitched a masterful 7 innings (4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) on only 74 pitches. The 2003 3rd-round draft choice even picked off a runner at second, for good measure. After giving up a run in the first, he shut down the door for the win. Brad Esarey gave way to closer prospect Brian Reed in the ninth, who struck out the side with an inherited runner on base.
The Alley Cats used timely hitting to score their seven. Starting behind the plate for the first time this season, Joey Wolfe was the offensive hero (2-3, 3B, 3 RBI, BB), while Clint Johnston (2-2, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB) helped the cause. Robby Diaz (youngest on the team) went 1-4 in the DH slot.
Links of the Day
1. A huge thank you goes to Matt Rauseo, who filed an in-game report on McGowan’s gem (and other player observations) on our site, as well as at his excellent blog, baseballanalysis.com.
2. Kevin Gray, Union-Leader, provides another must-read on McGowan and the Cats, as well as a game story.
3. Jim Mandelaro, Democrat-Chronicle, has Mike Nakamura's first words as a Blue Jay
4. Matt Michael, Syracuse Post-Standard Chiefs reporter, has a rather important article on the long-standing relationship between the Jays and Syracuse.
5. Michael also has the story on newly acquired Chiefs catcher, Gregg Zaun, and a wrapup of yesterday's loss to Rochester.
6. Tommy Atkinson, Charleston Gazette-Mail, has the report on Marcum's terrific start for the Alley Cats yesterday. Apparently, there are too many Cats in this organization, as Charleston is seeking a new nickname by September. (How about the West Virginia Primaries?)
7. Jim Callis has the official 2004 supplemental draft info, and the Jays received picks #32 and #83, courtesy of Escobar's departure to the Halos.
8. MinorLeagueBaseball.com has each and every minor league boxscore (and they store all the boxscores from the current season)
Three Star Selection!
Our Third Star: Shaun Marcum, Charleston. (Great outing in his first pro start)
Our Second Star: Ismael Ramirez, Dunedin. (An unheralded, yet talented, member of the D-Jays staff)
Our First Star: Dustin McGowan, New Hampshire. (Matt Rauseo said it best in his report; Doc's apprentice will be in 'Cuse before June)